Earlier this week I posted a review of Fallingwater, today is another of my “cultural” posts. I was invited to see a talk with Amnon Weinsten, the founder of the Violins of Hope project at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage on Sunday.

Photo from http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/about/about-the-violins/
Photo from http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/about/about-the-violins/

For the last two decades Weinstein has been “locating and restoring violins that were played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust,” according to the Violins of Hope website. He talked about the history of specific violins, his family’s background, and the important role music played during the Holocaust. We were event treated to a girl playing one of the violins. These aren’t just violins that are restored to look pretty in the cases, Weinstein and his son expertly restore the violins to be played. Could you imagine playing an instrument with such a rich history?

One of the biggest things I took from the talk and exhibition was that Jews were instructed to play music while in the ghettos and in concentration camps. I was fascinated and quite a bit horrified to learn that people in the camps were allowed to have their instruments so they could play in the mornings, evenings, as trains arrived, and Sunday nights for the SS officers. Being able to play an instrument literally saved the lives of the musicians.

After the talk we went to the museum to see the instruments. It was an incredibly well done exhibition. With my museum background sometimes I get caught up in how museums present information more than the content itself. This was one of those times I was able to balance the two. They did a fantastic job of explaining the importance of each violin and the people who played them.

Because of the talk there were a lot of people and it was hard to really get a great look at everything. I definitely plan on returning with Derek, who as a history major loves learning about Holocaust history. I definitely recommend checking it out. I would have no problem taking Keely right now because there was definitely room to maneuver a stroller or put her in the Lillebaby and move around without feeling cramped.

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